Yorkshire Terrier

posing yorkshire terrier

Yorkshire Terriers, or more affectionately called Yorkies, are one of the most popular toy breeds. They are small, but mighty with big personalities. They can be bossy, brave, and feisty - with an attitude much larger than their tiny frame would suggest. Because of this, they are decent watchdogs, though they can bark more than some may like.

They are often hypoallergenic because their single coats are fine like human hair and they do not shed often. Yorkies are long-lived, making them great companions, even with kids and other dogs. These small dogs are popular for a reason - there is never a dull moment with a Yorkshire terrier.

Yorkshire Terrier History

Yorkies were first bred in the 1800s to be rodent catchers, but they quickly became a favorite lapdog, particularly of the wealthy, because of their cuddly personalities and beautiful coats. 

They are likely a mix of several different breeds of terriers from Scotland, including Skye terriers and Dandie Dinmont. They were bred to size, helping them sneak through small spaces to catch rodents in textile mills and coal mines. Yorkies were named after Yorkshire, England, which is where most of their development as a breed took place, but they quickly spread in popularity around the world.

Yorkshire Terriers were recognized in 1885 by the AKC in the United States and in 1886 by the Kennel Club in England, and with that, they turned from a working dog to a lady’s companion. Yorkies then became the silky-haired, petite dog that they are known to be today, growing in popularity ever since. 

Yorkshire Terrier Appearance

Yorkshire Terriers have a very distinctive coat that is silky. It looks more like human hair than dog fur. It can be long, which is the preferred length in dog shows, or short, which is more manageable for typical owners. Yorkies can be black, tan, gold, silver, or a mixture of colors. Their coat color is due to hormones, and if it starts to turn before they are 1 year old, they will likely be lighter in color. Yorkshire Terriers do not have distinctive markings and their tails are typically docked.

Yorkshire Terriers are typically between 7 to 9 inches tall and weigh between four to seven pounds, though they can be bigger or smaller (teacup). Their personalities often shine through in their stature, and you can tell when they are being stubborn, mischievous, and more just by how they look. 

Yorkshire Terrier Personality

Yorkshire Terriers are smart and confident dogs, often very adventurous - more than their size would suggest. When they aren’t out exploring or taking on bigger dogs, they are great cuddlers. 

Yorkies have high energy levels, so they need a lot of mental stimulation to keep them busy - after all, they were bred to be working dogs! They are easy to train with proper motivation, though they can be stubborn and willful.  They often show a range of personalities, and you will need to make sure to not try to spoil them too much. They will quickly become the boss of any household without any limits.

Yorkshire Terrier Exercise Requirements

Yorkies need daily exercise, though it does not need to be too aggressive given their small stature. Try to keep it to two short walks per day, though you can work up to more if your Yorkie can keep up. It is important to listen to them and not push them too hard as it can cause more harm than good. 

Yorkshire Terriers should be walked with harnesses as jerking on their trachea can cause them to collapse. It is important that you are not too rough with your Yorkie during exercise, though they can be stronger and fiercer than you think, especially when defending their territory and their people. 

They also do well with playing and especially love chasing after tennis balls. It helps tap into their hunting instinct! Because they were working dogs, you should also complement physical exercise with mental tasks like obedience, agility, or puzzle games to challenge them mentally too. 

Yorkshire Terrier Training and Care

Yorkshire Terriers can be very willful dogs, but that doesn't mean they are hard to train. Instead, they are eager to please with the right motivation and are very task-oriented. Make sure to praise them a lot and give them plenty of treats for a job well done. They react well to positive reinforcement.

Yorkies should be socialized from a young age to help them adapt and handle different situations with confidence and ease.  Yorkshire Terriers are notoriously hard to housebreak. They have small bladders and can potty in the house out of spite.  

You should feed your Yorkshire Terrier between 1/2 to 3/4 cups of food per day, typically over two meals.  Because Yorkies are small, it is very easy for them to become obese, so you need to take care not to overfeed them or give them too many treats. 

Yorkshire Terrier Health

Yorkshire Terriers are genetically dispositioned to a few health issues. If you are going through a breeder, make sure to ask for health tests from the parents. These tests will likely not be available if you are adopting.

  • Patellar Luxation, which is where the femur, kneecap, and tibia aren't lined up properly.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which is a degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness. 
  • Portosystemic shunt, which is a problem with the flow of blood between the body and the liver. 
  • Hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar that can cause weakness, confusion, or seizure-like episodes. 
  • Collapsed trachea, which can cause a dry, harsh cough in small dogs. This can often be confused with reverse sneezing, which occurs when your dog eats or drinks too fast or when there are allergens in the air. 

Yorkshire Terriers are small but sturdy dogs that when taken care of properly will live between 11 and 15 years.

Yorkshire Terrier Grooming

Yorkshire Terriers require regular grooming, even though they have a single coat that does not shed often. Their coat, much like human hair, tangles easily. You should brush your Yorkie daily with a slicker brush to prevent matted fur. Yorkies should get weekly baths to keep their coats shiny and healthy. If their coat is short, they should be taken to the groomer every 6-8 weeks to keep it at the desired length. 

Regularly check their ears for infection. Their ears stand up, so they are susceptible to getting debris and hair in there. Their nails should also be trimmed to prevent them from clicking on the ground. They are prone to dental issues, so you will want to make sure to brush their teeth regularly to prevent these issues from developing.